The couples intensive embodies two days to focus on just you and your relationship. It is an invitation to be in heaven for some and well... decidedly not-heaven for others. Recently, I had the honor and pleasure of spending time in a couples intensive with my partner, being expertly guided by our teacher and mentor, Hedy Schleifer, MA. Here is a peek into what taking the journey of being present with the one you love can create.
In the couples intensive, you have the opportunity to explore each other’s world. Our worlds are filled with many neighborhoods. In fact, we create new neighborhoods all the time so anytime you visit your partner and are in the present moment, you will experience a new neighborhood, a place neither of you has ever been before. This is a place of expansion and aliveness. Some of our neighborhoods are wonderful places to explore and others are places we should never go to alone.
The first visit of the intensive experience is to a Precious Neighborhood, which is a place where you feel deeply good, centered, competent, a wonderful sense of aliveness. I invited my partner into my world to explore one of my precious neighborhoods. and boom, I hit gridlock. I feel deeply good out in nature…I feel most competent in my work… Which neighborhood to pick? I got caught in overthinking and needed to let the neighborhood pick me. As I sat in total connection and presence with my partner, an image of me on a paddle board began to emerge. Gridlock reappeared when I tried to bat the paddle board vison away because it did not seem to have anything to do with anything. In the spirit of allowing the presence of my partner to help me access the deepest wisdom and greatest feeling of aliveness within myself, I finally relaxed and went with the paddle board and here is what emerged.
“In the spirit of allowing the presence of my partner to help me access
the deepest wisdom and greatest feeling of aliveness within myself, I finally relaxed
and went with the paddle board…”
As I first learned to paddle board, not many years ago, I was shaky and wobbly. However, each time I stepped on the board I felt stronger and more balanced. After every spectacular plunge, I recalibrated and found a better balance. Eventually, I learned to relax and enjoy the scenery of the beautiful water and to anticipate the ripples and waves with a sense of adventure. I now paddle with a mission of getting from one place to the next and I can even take time to stop and purposely slip into the water to refresh and rejuvenate. I take time to lay on the board, relax and experience the feel of the water on my hands and feet as I dangled them overboard while appreciating the clouds floating across the sky. My precious neighborhood evolved nicely as each street highlighted important aspects of my paddle board experience. It then occurred to me that in the eyes of my partner and in a state of deep resonance I was describing a model for living life to its fullest. This is where I landed
Paddle Boarding as a Model for Living Life to its Fullest
1. Enjoy the plunge and have the passion and resilience to get back up again, and again and
2. Welcome life’s ripples with a sense of adventure.
3. Learn to Glide with ease, strength and balance
4. Jump in, splash and play often.
5. Take time to relax and enjoy the water below, the sky above and to appreciate your brilliant
and balanced presence in-between.
As a guide and therapist for other people’s lives and relationships It is important that I walk my talk and personally experience what I am asking of the people I help. It was clear that experiencing an intensive would be lovely and connecting for my relationship and it would help me and my partner gain clarity about our priorities and direction. My hope was that it would also help me learn to be a better guide for the couple’s intensives I provide. Our intensive did all those things but as often the case there was so much more.
It was an immense surprise to connect with and articulate such a coherent model for living. I am intrigued by the potential for living this model fully and feeling more integrated and whole in my life and my relationship. I look forward to bringing this sense of balance, strength and ease into my work helping people transform their lives and relationships. I invite you to experience an intensive couples journey of your own and discover where your connection with your beloved will take you. It truly is a journey worth taking.
Amy Blake, LCSW
Click HERE for more information about the couples intensive.
Improving Your Relationship in Less than 10 Minutes a Week
It is so important that we have a focus on positivity in our relationship. Our brains are designed to keep us safe. By design, we encode and remember more vividly the negative and hurtful things that we experience. This is why after a great vacation the wonderful feel of the warm sun and the expansive views of natural beauty soon begin to fade but that surly TSA agent is burned into our memory and we can recall that experience with great detail and feeling weeks after our return. Survival is of course great, but if we want to be truly alive we have to override this normal and natural brain function. If we only focus on problems, then we naturally will begin to see more problems to the point that we even make up problems. When we focus on the positive and what we love and appreciate about in our partner, we will begin to see even more to love and appreciate. When we feel connected and infused with love and positivity, we have more patience and grace for one another’s humanness and we deepen our reserves to tackle the more difficult conversations.
Click on Positive Flooding for your free PDF download
Positive Flooding is a wonderful experience for infusing your relationship with positivity. Think of it as a love shower where one partner shares their love, admiration and gratitude for the other.
Take some time to list what you love, admire, appreciate and feel grateful for about your partner. List at least 3 for each.
Example: I love your silky skin.
Example: I am grateful for your patience.
Example: I appreciate when you bring me coffee in bed.
Use the superlative ie. You are the greatest…the most amazing… in the whole entire world/universe.
It is okay to do only one or two of the Global Affirmations.
Example: You are the greatest partner anyone could ever have and I am the luckiest person in the whole wide world to have you in my life.
When you are ready to experience the flooding:
#1 Decide who will be the one to give and who will be the one to receive the positive flooding.
#2 The receiver of the positive flooding sits in a spot where their partner can walk around them as they
shower the receiver with love and gratitude.
#3 The giver of positive flooding will begin to walk around their partner and share what they love and
appreciate about their partner. Start with Physical Characteristics; then Personality Traits; then Behaviors;
then Global Affirmations. Start out with your regular voice and then raise it to a happy shout when you
say the Global Affirmations. As you walk around your partner, you can move slowly and keep contact, as
you are able, with their shoulders and back.
#4 To end, stop in front of your partner and say in your loudest voice three times: "I LOVE YOU." Do this
with a lot of energy and enthusiasm and an impromptu cheer is always a nice addition.
#5 Give each other a hug and enjoy the glow!
Do this once a week. You can even go just one way each week and alternate weeks.
A note for the receiver. As you listen to your partner flooding you, take it in. Smile. This is especially important if it is uncomfortable for you to hear nice things about yourself. Just notice what is happening for you and be sure to continue to take in what your partner is saying. Being a good receiver is also a great gift.
A note for the giver. Be careful not to mix criticism in with the appreciation. We can often in subtle and not so subtle ways fold a complaint into our appreciation. Examples: I love it when you don’t leave the toilet seat up. Here the complaint of leaving the toilet seat up has been referenced. Also it is important to focus on what you do appreciate and want more of rather than what you don’t want. Another example: I love how much more kind you are now. This is a subtler reference to a time when the partner was not so kind. It is important to focus on what you are appreciating, even if there are times when that behavior is not happening.
The double gift. Like much of the work of Imago Relationship Therapy and Encounter Centered Couples Therapy, this is a double gift. What we give we also receive. So, the person doing the showering of love is not only infusing their partner and their relationship with love and gratitude, they also personally benefit from the important messages and goodwill they are sharing.
Positive Flooding is used in Imago Relationship Therapy and is enjoyed in Getting the Love You Want Couples Weekend Workshops all over the world. It is one of many ways of connecting positively with your partner.